Jason McAteer: Only surprise about Brendan Rodgers' sacking was Liverpool's timing
Published 06/10/2015 | 02:30
Jason McAteer knew that Brendan Rodgers was a dead man walking after last week's Europa League draw at home with FC Sion of Switzerland at Anfield.
Former Republic of Ireland international McAteer had felt for some time that the guillotine would come down on the Liverpool manager's career at Anfield.
'Trigger' attended the Sion game in his role as a media pundit and could see no prospect of salvation.
"It wasn't a great performance and at the press conference after the game it looked like he'd run out of answers," he said. "He looked down, like he was resigned to the fact he was going to get the sack.
"It's a little bit sooner than what I thought, but I knew it was coming," said McAteer.
Rodgers paid the ultimate price after three years without a trophy and for not finding a replacement for the scoring machine that was Luis Suarez.
He might occasionally like a nibble of a defender, but in front of goal Suarez was a marvellous predator and his 31 goals in 2013-14 almost propelled Liverpool to the Premier League title.
But, in McAteer's opinion, Liverpool's failings are not all down to the manager. The way Fenway Sporting Group (FSG) run the club have also played a part.
"When Suarez had gone, I got the fact that he (Rodgers) invested in quantity and the squad needed bolstering.
"We had Champions League, FA Cup, Premier League and League Cups to play, so the squad needed strengthening. We needed more players.
"But Daniel Sturridge's injury record has not been great, so if Daniel was to get an injury, we were in trouble if we didn't spend some of that big amount of cash from the Suarez deal on a proven goalscorer.
"It didn't materialise. If you look back on mistakes Brendan made, that was a big mistake - probably the biggest," said McAteer.
That said, the famous - or infamous - Liverpool transfer committee and the business model adopted by the owners arguably placed restrictions on Rodgers that tied his hands to an extent.
"FSG have moved in the right direction in a business sense. The football club is now worth £600m. They bought it for £300m.
"In terms of business they're very forward-thinking,and it has been a very successful business venture," said McAteer.
However, supporters, particularly Liverpool supporters, do not care about the business model. They want power, passion and trophy-winning football - something which Rodgers teams did not deliver.
McAteer, who would be happy to see Carlo Ancelotti or Jurgen Klopp come to Liverpool, expects the new manager to want control over signing players and the transfer budget.
If the new manager negotiates that type of control, there could be grounds for optimism.
It's difficult to believe that 21 years have passed since McAteer played in a memorable 2-0 away win against Germany in Hannover.
It's also more difficult to believe that result can be repeated in the Aviva Stadium on Thursday night.
Depending on results in Group D, a more likely scenario would see the Irish into the play-offs and a possible clash with Holland.
Holland and Jason McAteer? They go together like a horse and carriage with that winning goal for ten-man Ireland against the Dutch on September 1, 2001.
"I'm reminded of it every time I'm over here," he said, "And it makes me laugh because everyone I meet went to the game, or so they say.
"There must have been 200,000 people at Lansdowne Road that day, but I'll never get sick of talking about it. It gave me a great lift, not only professionally but personally as well."